INVESTING IN OUR FAMILIES AND OUR FUTURE
April 06, 2016
My PURPLE PROJECT this year- I am running the half marathon in Lincoln Nebraska. This is the second year, Lincoln is teaming up with Project Purple- a fight against pancreatic cancer. You see, my mom died of pancreatic cancer...and her mom ....and my grandpa (on my dad's side) as well. My friend, Keith is helping me train for this marathon. Keith and I used to be continuous work out partners before his accident, which paralyzed him from the waist down. That didn't stop him. After almost 22 years, we teamed up again. He is helping me fight for this cause ....We want to because we are still able to, both physically and mentally. Hopefully we can be role models for both of our families , friends and even strangers to try and keep ourselves moving and healthy so that we can help others. Please join us in this crusuade.
“in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)
in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me”
― E.E. Cummings
Below is something I wrote back in 2009. It was my very first half marathon.
13 miles of inspiration
I never thought I could run more than 4 miles let alone a half marathon.
In the last 12 years I found it hard to consistently work out. I knew I liked to work out, especially with weights. I always realized how important it should be especially being in Law Enforcement. I desired to get back into shape. Cardio, however, was not my specialty.
In 1991, I started the police academy in Omaha Nebraska. I became friends with Keith who graduated from the academy with me. After we graduated and hit the streets we ended up on the same crew. Keith and I knew how valuable it was to stay in shape while patrolling the streets at night, especially knowing that you may have to be a back up to one of your fellow officers.
Keith and I became partners in the gym. We motivated and challenged each other. Constantly doing pull-ups, push ups, sit ups, jump rope etc. Did I run during all this circuit training? No. I thought it was too hard for me.
One night in August 1996, a stolen Jeep Cherokee smashed into the cruiser that Keith and his partner were in. Keith had to be extricated from the cruiser. He suffered extensive brain damage and needed surgery to repair his aorta. After beating the odds and surviving, Keith was paralyzed from the chest down. His doctor, amazed at his back muscles, said he would have never survived if he weren’t in such great shape. Nevertheless, Keith was in a coma for 20 days. When he finally awoke, I was very nervous to see him. Lt. Kyle told me that he might not even recognize nor remember me. I went up to his hospital room and hesitantly walked in. Keith turned his head towards me reached out his hands and said, "Connie I was wondering when you were going to visit. Are you still working on your abs…?" Keith remembered what our routine used to be and even remembered that we ate at Sizzlers salad bar for lunch after our workouts.
I was laughing and crying at the same time.
Over the years, Keith continued his rehab. Although he couldn’t walk, Keith continued working his upper body. His shoulders and arms were muscular and incredibly strong. Every time I saw Keith, he would ask if I were working out. I kept making excuses.
After having two more children, I gained over 30 lbs. and never lost it. I had full function of all my body parts. Yet, Keith, still paralyzed, was working out harder than I was. For over 12 years, I was embarrassed about this.
Another fellow Officer, Kristy, was in the recruit class before Keith and I. All three of us worked the same crew in North Omaha together. Kristy who was always (and still is) tall, lean, beautiful both inside and out, enjoyed running.
I remember her talking about her husband, Jeff, who lost over 30 lbs. She said that he was eating oatmeal and had started running. She was so proud of him. I always kept that in the back of my mind. I knew that running needed to be a part of my workout regime. I had the desire but not yet the motivation or complete inspiration.
Then over 6 months ago, several factors occurred that would cause me to be completely inspired and physically motivated. All of this seemed to happen at once.
In a short period, over 100 of my fellow police officers retired. These were Officers that taught us "rookies" how to be safe and provide good back up. They had the knowledge experience and plain old common sense on how to catch the bad guy. These retirees that I depended on included my Sgt. who was in charge of a special investigations unit. I regarded this Sgt. as one of the best role models for any officer. Although I was in the Detective bureau for several years I transferred to this special investigations unit and found my dream job.
After these Officers and my Sgt. retired, I felt like I wasn't going to have any back up left.
Along came Tina, a good friend of mine. She had a goal to run a marathon. I thought she was crazy. In the fall, she asked if I would run with her out at the lake. I told her I would go with her, but run? Probably not. I couldn’t even go a full mile without stopping. However, I did support her. While Tina ran, I would mostly walk and sometimes jog. When I wanted to give up, Tina wouldn't let me.
Then, with no warning whatsoever, Kristy’s husband took his own life. Kristy was devastated. I felt so helpless wanting to comfort her but I was not good at this. I needed to do something. So, I made a promise to myself but for Kristy. I was going to make my self run at least a mile each day, 6 days a week until Christmas and keep oatmeal in my diet in honor of Jeff. That would be my gift to her.
I could see Lives and “life” passing by in such a short period.
As I ran, I slowly started incorporating the weights, pull ups, push-ups and other routines that Keith and I did in the past. I felt good enough to tell him about this. Keith and I met at a fundraiser and talked for hours for the first time since the accident. It was great!
Finally, I started trying to keep up (only halfway, though) with Tina’s schedule as she prepared for her marathon. Her determination and inflexible regime was incredible. In December, she finished a full marathon in 35-degree weather in Charlotte, North Carolina!
January 2009, my sister Joanie who lives in Friendswood, Texas, asked if I wanted to run the Seabrook marathon. I told Tina about it and she was willing to run it. At home, I got on the computer and logged onto the site, "MarathonRookie.com". I followed the 10-week schedule for the novice runner.
I ran and trained; All the while thinking of Tina’s encouraging words, Keith, my sister, inspiring words from Kristy, my crew at the office and my family (who also made lots of sacrifices). In fact, Mike, another fellow Officer who also enjoys running, called this a "moving meditation". So true.
March 14th came along. Tina, Joanie, her daughter Bethany and I were ready to run. Bethany and I were the most nervous because we never ran this far before. The weather was freezing! It was colder in Seabrook, Texas than in Omaha, Nebraska.
The marathon started and we were off. I had to relay back to Omaha the signs that read, "Caution, Alligators and Snakes" and "Danger! Unstable Sand". My 9-year-old got a kick out of this. Although cold, the Seabrook trail was beautiful. I could tell that the community must have worked hard to clean up the area after hurricane "Ike".
Running through the forested areas, I continued my "moving meditation". I wanted to accomplish my goal. I was neither going to let myself down nor those that inspired me. I was completely surprised how fast the time went by. I did not feel tired even up to the eighth mile.
Then the tenth mile came and I wondered if I was going to walk or not. I was anxious to be done. I pushed myself harder and before I knew it, mile 12 arrived; I was going to make it!
Shortly after, I saw the finish line and picked up my speed. I sprinted in as fast as I could and passed up who ever was in front of me. I finally made it and finished!
My 14 year- old daughter text’d me “Good job” which meant a lot!
I would never have dreamed in a million years that I would ever accomplish a half marathon and run it non-stop. I finished in 2:09 10 seconds averaging a 9:48 minute mile. Whether they realize it or not, the people I mentioned above were role models for me. To me, succeeding at this is a way I can show my respect, give thanks, and hopefully act as a role model for others, including my family.
PROJECT PURPLE wrote -
Project Purple's mission: to beat pancreatic cancer. Our Method: participating in the best road races in the world. The Lincoln Marathon and Half is amaing! This race is at the top of our list for all time favorite marathons, from the warm and welcoming people of Nebraska, the excitement and emergy of the organizers and participants, and the love and support of the Lincoln Track Club. We are so excited and proud to be the official charity of this event for a second year. Our team will be running to support our three programs, listed below.
In the last four years, our charity has provided $500K in grants to top medical centers specializing in the study of pancreatic cancer. We have carefully selected institutions based on the quality of their work and their researchers. Recipients include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, NYU, and Columbia. Grants have also been awarded to postdoctoral students and professional researchers, to support studies in early detection methods, a cure, and a better understanding of the mysterious and deadly disease.
Patient Financial Aid
Project Purple helps support families and individuals dealing with the financial burden of pancreatic cancer. Patients who are currently battling are given support with medical bills, living expenses, and travel. We also give care packages to patients to provide comfort during hospital visits.
For the past three years, Project Purple has helped undergraduate, graduate, and nursing students achieve their academic goals by providing scholarships. These awards are given to bright, passionate students whose lives have been adversely affected by pancreatic cancer. Many have lost parents or other close relatives to the disease, other had the disease themselves.
For more information about these programs and what you can do to help support our mission, visit us online at www.run4projectpurple.org. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.